Friday, June 22, 2012

The Digital War On Mystery

I've recently been met by resentment from those who are upset that I do no engage enough on FB. This anger is fed by my choice to contact them by other means, such as phone or email, or god forbid, face-to-face contact. I will not deny that I have been hesitant to contact anyone by any means as of late due to personal issues, although attempts have been made. To return to this resentment, those individuals who are angered by those who quit FB, yet still want to keep in touch, are a funny sort. This kind of regulation, to keep people in touch, yet at great distance, is of the most cowardly prose. What is FB if not a way to keep in touch with the world from one's own cave? Better yet, FB works like a bomb shelter: while the explosiveness of "being-in-the-world" occurs, FB offers the perfect table to hide under. What we get instead are tidbits of noted activity, factoids that serve to feed the mind's eye as to what existence is "really" like. What elitist tenacity it is for one to leave the shelter--don't you know you'll die out there?! The post serves as good as any indication of the true nature of the world. Such a sentiment is not one I argue with, as it does no good to argue with the Jehovah's Witness as he knocks at your door, questioning why you do not join the divine party.

What I think troubles those who are upset by those who leave FB is similar to how a group of alcoholics are irritated by one in their group who decides to stop drinking. Much like how an ignorant addict might confuse alcohol as an elixir to greener pastures, the FB addict is lured by a queue of posts that offer what appears to be information on the workings of the lives of others. In the past I have asked whether or not anyone can discern the difference between chatting, if we can call it that, with someone on FB and chatting with program ELIZA. I have yet to hear any reply to amount to anything more than to the simpleness of ELIZA's discourse, but this is more an appeal to faith than to reason.

Why leave FB? If anything to embody the thought that there is more to engaging people than typing on a keypad, seated in isolation, staring at a computer screen; whatever happened to the beauty of the other's eyes? Where has the music of the voice gone? Have we all been transferred into digital bits? Some of us have willingly had our image resolution set. However, there are still some of us who thrive off of ambiguity, who are excited at the thought of escaping solidification. A luxurious feature to the digital image is that it allows one's feet to be glued to the ground on the spot--there is no fear in taking a step and thereby changing one's shape; how can I know myself if I'm constantly moving?! Hungry for control of our shape, we contemplate and use whatever intellectual means to decide what people see and read on us--let us be rid of confusion and to finally meet each other as creatures understood! While we're at it, let's take two chairs and throw them together--two objects understood! The digital image is to make oneself into an object, something that is meant to be known in a certain fashion given the culture it's contained in. What chair has passions, endeavors, intuitions? If the one I'm sitting on now does, it sure as hell is a repressed entity!

The resentment that this article at first made mention of is one against ambiguity and mystery. We like to have others figured out, especially those we claim as friends. This type of discourse is no different than one who plants a flag and claims the spot of the land. FB has become an ideal weapon of power over each other, to command and conquer. This is not to say that it does not serve other purposes, as it seemed quite useful during much the Occupy movements, and it has its uses of informing others of events, though it remains troubling that FB participants feel it enough to view the event rather than attend it. What should be kept in sight is that FB is an instrument of power over one another, or at least an attempt of which. We administer control over our images and think that this serves as presence in the world, very similar to the man who claims to be a runner and yet does not run. As for the fate of everyone else, the image of others provides us with an understanding, the funniest kind, one you find in a mad house in which the patients run the show. The FB user is then upset by those who abandon the image and wander into the shadows. What kind of human would want to evade the radar of understanding? What kind of elitist would want to be something other than like a chair? I know not how to speak of such a person, except my means of personal interpretation, and it is futile to offer up what others can not see. When these shadow-dwellers seek to engage the FB user outside the shelter, amidst the explosions, this seems to be a futile gesture: to ask the rational soul and the dark figure to meet.

It is care the draws one to something, as such it is care the draws us together. When the FB user is irritated that those who lurk in the shadows seek to make contact by means other than through FB, the user fails to see care. This is not to say that the user does not exhibit care, or is not capable of care. Instead, the user is simply not capable of exhibiting care through FB, specifically in the area of friendship, as the user is led to believe by the post/comment structure of FB. While there is nothing sinister in participating on FB, my disposition is to advise against being deceived by it, and an indication of this is to bear resentment against those who evade such a digital landscape. The shadow-dweller is one who is not content with the rigid encasement of the digital image. She is tired of the dry stare caused by the computer screen. She much rather see the light in your eyes and hear the song the escapes from your lips. Her fingertips are hard from smashing against the letter coded plastic, and seeks to soften her touch by the skin of your hands. She wants you to join her in the darkness. What, are you afraid of mystery? Is your ass too well worn that your feet have not the stamina to dance in the abyss?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Judith Butler: "Critically Queer"

Below is a link to the Butler piece which I based "Performative Slurs" on. The Nietzsche papers I will provide later, but each of which provide and interesting perspective on the role that language plays in day to day acts, and how without out it we wouldn't have a world in which we inhabit. An accurate synopsis of Butler's article is offered by wikipedia:

Butler characterizes gender as the effect of reiterated acting, one that produces the effect of a static or normal gender while obscuring the contradiction and instability of any single person's gender act. This effect produces what we can consider to be 'true gender', a narrative that is sustained by "the tacit collective agreement to perform, produce, and sustain discrete and polar genders as cultural fictions is obscured by the credibility of those productions – and the punishments that attend not agreeing to believe in them."[1] The performative acts which Butler is discussing she names to be performative and within the larger social, unseen world, they exist within performativity.

On Butler's hypothesis, the socially constructed aspect of gender performativity is perhaps most obvious in drag performance, which offers a rudimentary understanding of gender binaries in its emphasis on gender performance. Butler understands drag cannot be regarded as an example of subjective or singular identity, where "there is a ‘one’ who is prior to gender, a one who goes to the wardrobe of gender decides with deliberation which gender it will be today".[2] Subsequently, drag should not be considered the honest expression of its performer’s intent. Rather, Butler suggests that what is performed "can only be understood through reference to what is barred from the signifier within the domain of corporeal legibility". [3]

  1. ^ Butler, Judith (1999) [1990]. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (Subversive bodily acts, IV Bodily Inscriptions, Performative Subversions). New York: Routledge. p. 179.
  2. ^ Butler, Judith (1993). "Critically Queer". GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 1 (1): 21.
  3. ^ Butler, Judith. Critically Queer. pp. 24.

Critically Queer